Amoeblog

Where Fools Fear to Tread -- An Albany Snapshot

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 3, 2014 02:29pm | Post a Comment
GRAND TOUR OF THE NORTHEAST AND QUEBEC

I recently took a sort of Grand Tour of the Northeastern United States and Quebec with Una. Before the trip I'd only been in the region once before when I spent a few days in and around Princeton and New York City during Yuletide a few years ago. I returned for the occasion of my sister's graduation but used the opportunity to explore the surrounding region by train. One of the city's that we visited was Albany.

Albany, New York postcard


Most of the places we visited we spent a substantial amount of time exploring. Visiting Albany, on the other hand, was a last minute decision. Wanting to visit Vermont we purchased tickets for the Ethan Allen Express to Rutland, Vermont. When the Amtrak board at Penn Station failed to list any Vermont trains, I approached an Amtrak employee and said, "May I ask you a question?" She said nothing but her face grew red and she visibly clenched her jaw so I inquired about the train to Vermont. In an unpleasant tone accompanied by an eye roll she stated, without looking at me, "I don't know why they'd sell you a ticket to Vermont when no train goes there." We returned to the ticket counter where a more helpful employee issued us a partial refund and informed us that we could take the Adironack Line to Albany so to Albany we went.

Where Fools Fear to Tread -- A Philadelphia Snapshot

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 2, 2014 09:11pm | Post a Comment


GROUND TOUR OF THE NORTHEAST AND QUEBEC - PHILADELPHIA

Eric Brightwell in Elfreth's Alley
The author in Philadelphia (image courtesy Una Zipagan)

I recently visited Philadelphia for the first time as a stop on a sort of Grand Tour of the Northeast and Quebec, which I undertook following my sister's graduation from Princeton. To date, the only states that I haven't visited in the lower 48 are located along the East Coast... except for North Dakota. Even those East Coast states that I had previously visited are not states in which I've spent much time. I'd been to New Jersey just once, New York just once, and Miami a few times. I've also been informed by several Northeasterners that Miami does "not count." I respond with a quote from Posdnuous, “Characters have the tendency to con themselves/ To think the East Coast is only New York and Philadelph.”

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Little Seoul

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 19, 2014 07:53pm | Post a Comment
INTRODUCTION TO LITTLE SEOUL 

Welcome sign at Brookhurst
Welcome sign at Brookhurst

Drive down Garden Grove Boulevard with your windows up (paying proper attention to the road in front of you) and you might not notice that you're passing through Little Seoul. There are no banners, memorials, murals, monuments or that many fluttering South Korean flags. Pass through on a bus and maybe you'll notice the Hangul signs and blue tile roofs. The best way to experience Little Seoul, despite some drawbacks, is by walking in it – although your hair might pick up the smell like bulgogi by the end of your ramble. The other day I headed over there to explore it, accompanied by Una Zipagan and host of the excellent Notebook on Cities and Culture podcast, Colin Marshall

Another blue tile community
Another blue tile community

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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring San Clemente, The Spanish Village in Orange County

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 10, 2013 03:28pm | Post a Comment
INTRODUCTION

San Clemente postcard
Mid-20th century postcard from San Clemente

Until the visit that Una and I took to San Clemente this past weekend, I don’t think that I’d ever visited the place. I’m not entirely sure because nearly all of my trips south on the 5 have ended in Mexico and the stretch of freeway between South Orange County and San Diego County has blended together in my mind into white-walled, red-roofed blur. I may very well stopped in San Clemente to refill the gas tank on at least one occasion but, again, I have no recollection. Now, however, after having spent a weekend there and exploring mostly on foot (the best way to explore) I promise that I won’t confuse San Clemente for any other red-tile community.

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San Clemente is the southernmost city in South County. This is inarguable in a geographic sense and arguable in a symbolic sense as well. South Orange County is generally and night entirely inaccurately characterized as a predominantly white, politically conservative, and wealthy place.

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of South Orange County
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of South Orange County

San Clemente is predominantly white -- 76% white (compared to 44% for the county as a whole) although to me it seemed even whiter. However, slow change is afoot and in the past thirty years, the Latino population has more than doubled whilst the Anglo population has shrunk by 14%. According to the 2010 census, the population of San Clemente is 17% Latino but that seemed to me much lower. My perception versus the facts might have to do with the fact that I stayed near North Beach and spent most of my time exploring Downtown and the area next to the ocean -- areas that are possibly much whiter than others. In two days I only heard Spanish being spoken on three occasions, including once in the kitchen of a Mexican restaurant. Asian-Americans make up just 4% of San Clemente's population, and blacks and Native Americans both make up less than 1% of the population. 

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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Santa Catalina Island and Avalon

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 26, 2013 07:38pm | Post a Comment
WHERE THE SAMBA TAKES YOU OUT OF NOWHERE -- AVALON (AND SANTA CATALINA ISLAND)

Two weeks ago I made my first visit to one of California’s Channel Islands, Santa Catalina Island. For those that don’t know, Southern California is home to an archipelago of small, rugged islands off its coast. My 2012 New Year’s resolution was to visit one or more of the Channel Islands. Having failed to realize this wish by December of that year, I instead resolved to learn to tie a bow tie after being berated (jokingly, I think) for not knowing how do so despite operating a gentlemen’s shop. For the record, I accomplished this last minute resolution and wore a bow tie a few nights later New Year’s Eve that I tied all by myself. Any, since transportation via Catalina Express is free on one’s birthday, I decided to have another go at island life.

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Santa Catalina Island
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Santa Catalina Island 

Accompanying me in her debut appearance was Una. In order to get as much out of our adventure as possible, we departed at some pre-dawn hour. After a hastily-devoured meal from McDonald's (which, though simple and clarified three times, managed nonetheless to be both screwed up and roof-of-the-mouth blisteringly hot) we raced down the docks and leapt aboard the boat with about two minutes to spare.